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Turkey blasts Syrian 'war machine'

March 7, 2013 at 9:38 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, March 7 (UPI) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday he's no longer a friend to Syrian President Bashar Assad because of Syria's vast "war machine."

Erdogan said from Ankara that his once close association with Assad was a thing of the past given his policy of oppressing his own people.

"The Syrian nation has been experiencing a nefarious slaughter by a dictator who holds every kind of war machine in his hands for two years," he was quoted by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman as saying.

Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz in late February met with German and Dutch counterparts during a visit to NATO Patriot missile batteries deployed along the Turkish border with Syria. Ankara issued the request for support with national defense last year as the Syrian civil war threatened to spread into Turkey.

NATO stressed there are no plans for a no-fly zone or an attack on Syria.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday before Parliament, however, that Britain was ready to supply armor and other non-lethal assistance to Syrian rebels fighting pro-Assad forces.

The United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 Syrians have died and another 1 million have been displaced by war that began two years ago.

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